Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Depleted' Boudjellal considering Toulon exit

Nehe Milner-Skudder: shoulder injury
Nehe Milner-Skudder: shoulder injury

Toulon's controversial owner Mourad Boudjellal is threatening to sell the club and walk away from rugby.

The millionaire comic-book owner has been the driving force behind the Cote d'Azur club's emergence from the French second tier to becoming European rugby's dominant force, backing a raft of high-profile signings as they claimed three Champions Cup titles in succession between 2013 and 2015.

However, they have gone backwards since 2015, failing to get past the European quarter-final or reach the Top 14 final last season, while they have been sluggish so far in this campaign.

Boudjellal has hired former Ireland defence coach Mike Ford to come in and assist Diego Dominguez for the rest of the season.

He has been an out-spoken critic of the powers that be in France and rugby's officialdom over the course of his 10 year-involvement and has been prone to outlandish statements.

However, French newspaper reports indicate that Boudjellal has already held discussions with lawyer Lucien Simon about purchasing his 51pc stake in the club.

"There is a strong chance that this will be my last year," Boudjellal said after Saturday's win over Clermont Auvergne.

"I do not have a huge fortune but it's reasonable. I am much depleted by the club and I don't know if many presidents do this.

"And after a while it weighs on my life. There are lots of things that make me wonder why I take hits every week from guys who have not done a hundredth of what I've done for 10 years. It will be complicated for me to continue longer. I want to live another life."

Meanwhile, All Black flier Nehe Milner-Skudder (pictured) will miss both Tests between New Zealand and Ireland in November after confirming that his shoulder injury will keep him out for the rest of the season.

The winger has been out since March with the problem.

Irish Independent

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